Five Ways to Optimize Your Family's Happiness


5 Simple Ways to Make a Happier Home

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Feeling a bit dreary lately? Kids always fighting? Husband always nagging? Here are five simple, evidence-based (of course! Science!) ways to shake the glum and pick up the spirits!

1.       Turn on some music that reminds you of “good times”. The grey matter between our ears is an amazing thing. It stores memories and emotions in the hippocampus. By turning on a song that was popular on your playlist during a “happy” stage of your life, your brain will bring up those emotions simply by pressing play! So, step number one is listening to music that makes you happy with your family.

2.       Put on a smile. This may sound silly but, sure enough, studies have shown that wearing a smile stimulates pleasure areas in the brain. “Fake it til you make it” actually has some research behind it, so don’t forget to smile when you’re feeling gloomy around the house and long for a pick-me-up.

3.       Focus your attention on a desired outcome. Sometimes we get caught up in thinking over how difficult things are or how challenging a behaviour is (maybe we get fixed on the kids arguing or the toddler tantruming) but, by bringing to mind your end goal, your brain will naturally follow it and fill in the gaps. Studies have shown the amazing benefits of being goal focused. Your mood will naturally begin to lift as you picture your children playing together and sitting nicely at the dinner table. What’s more, is your brain will have clarity and you will begin picturing the steps needed to accomplish that happy family picture. Brilliant, right?

4.       Get enough sleep at night. Now this one may be a little trickier, especially for families with newborns!! But, I had to include it on the list because there is so much evidence behind it. Getting enough sleep is essential for the brain to feel “good”. Some great ways to get the most rest each night are journaling (something we talk about often in here with gratitude lists!), getting plenty of sunlight and exertion during the day and removing lights and screens from the bedroom allowing your mind to wind down.

5.       Reduce stress and unnecessary challenges by always starting small. If you are introducing a new routine or focusing on shaping a specific outcome, start with simple, achievable steps for your family so you are successful the first time. This will send a rush of chemicals that support a motivational message, “We did it! We can do anything!” and gradually increase the challenge while supporting one another. This is perfect for changing bedtime and mealtime routines which children (and adults) can find difficult at the beginning. Lastly, when trying to shape a specific behaviour, starting simple can make all the difference for that young brain still figuring some things out AND will keep your brain motivated. Make small changes first so you don't take on more than you can handle which inevitably leads to stress and overwhelm. 

What do you think of my list? What are some ways you shake off the dust at home?

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Stephanie Wicker